Soccer By Ives Archives for January 2007

MLS Awards finalists announced

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Major League Soccer announced the finalist for its regular season awards on Monday and while most of the nominees were easy enough to call, some were pretty surprising.

Here is the list of finalists for some of the awards:

MVP- Juan Pablo Angel, Luciano Emilo, Cuauhtemoc Blanco

Newcomer of the Year- Juan Pablo Angel, Luciano Emilo, Cuauhtemoc Blanco

Defender of the Year- Michael Parkhurst, Claudio Suarez, Eddie Robinson

Rookie of the Year- Dane Richards, Maurice Edu and Adam Cristman

Goalkeeper of the Year- Brad Guzan, Pat Onstad, Matt Reis

So which were the surprises?

Add Australia to the 2018 World Cup mix

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Just when you thought England was going to offer the toughest competition to a USA bid for World Cup 2018 comes word from down under that Austrialia is poised to bid on the event.

Having already covered a World Cup on the opposite side of the world in 2002 let me say that Australia would be a less than ideal alternative than England for American soccer fans, with the time difference being the biggest obstacle.

SBI European Club Top 25

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Talk about a week of quality clashes. Arsenal tied Liverpool late, Chelsea thrashed Manchester City, Roma beat reeling AC Milan and big clubs from Juventus to Rangers suffered upset losses.

It was all enough to shake up the SBI European club rankings, though not at the very top, where Arsenal remains despite it's draw.

You will notice the change from a Top 10 to a Top 25.

The odds of another USA World Cup just got longer

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If you were already planning for the possibility of the 2018 World Cup being held in the United States, don't hold your breath.

FIFA has decided to scrap the rotation policy for hosting World Cups after Brazil hosts the 2014 World Cup. That means that rather than CONCACAF being assured of hosting 2018, the bidding for the 2018 World Cup will now be open to the highest bidder and provider of bribes perks).

Wynalda talks about California comment

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(Apologies for the re-post but the blog does that sometimes when changes are made.)

Eric Wynalda may make jokes about a lot of things, be it poor officiating or poor finishing, but the ESPN soccer analyst insists that the last thing he was trying to do was make a joke about the wildfires in California during the ESPN2 broadcast of the Chicago-DC United playoff game on Thursday.

Monday Morning Center Back: The MLS Playoff Format

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Good morning folks. It is a CHILLY day on the East Coast and it should be a busy day on SBI. I spoke to Eric Wynalda about his comments during last week's Fire-DC match and he helped clear up just what happened. I will post that shortly. I will also post a revamped European club Top 25 (Yes, 25) as well as an Americans Abroad update, which will surely lead with Freddy Adu's latest heroics.

Adu scores game-winner for Benfica

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Freddy Adu's stock keeps on rising. The young American striker scored his first league goal for Benfica, netting a game-winner in the 87th minute to help Benfica score a 2-1 victory against Maritimo on Sunday.

Adu's goal follows his Champions League group stage debut at midweek and his late game-tying goal in Benfica's Portuguese Cup match last weekend.

Red Bulls vs. Revolution (Running Commentary)

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Good evening folks. I'm at Giants Stadium and we're a few minutes from kickoff. I will be doing a running commentary from tonight's match. Follow along and feel free to share your thoughts on the match below.

Enjoy the match:

---------------------------

HALFTIME- It's scoreless and the Red Bulls have controlled the play.

Chelsea thrashes Man City, Man U rolls again

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Good afternoon folks. I'm about to head to Giants Stadium in a little bit for tonight's playoff game between New England and the Red Bulls and had to post about this mornings Chelsea-Manchester City match.

WOW.

For those of you who missed it, Chelsea poured on the style and skill in absolutely destroying a Manchester City team that had looked pretty good this season.

Red Bulls announce 2007 Award winners

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The New York Red Bulls announced the winners of their 2007 team awards on Friday. There weren't any real surprises:

  • Most Valuable Player: Juan Pablo Angel
  • Newcomer of the Year: Juan Pablo Angel
  • Defender of the Year: Jeff Parke
  • Young Player of the Year: Jozy Altidore
  • Unsung Player of the Year: Jon Conway
  • Humanitarian of the Year: Seth Stammler

Who is on your MLS Best XI?

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After laying out my picks for MLS awards last week, it is time to present to you my picks for 2007 MLS Best XI and to find out what players you consider worthy of being MLS Best XI.

Here is the SBI MLS Best XI:

  • GK- Brad Guzan
  • D- Michael Parkhurst
  • D- Claudio Suarez
  • D- Eddie Robinson
  • M- Shalrie Joseph
  • M- Christian Gomez
  • M- Ben Olsen
  • M- Steve Ralston
  • M- Sacha Kljestan
  • F- Juan Pablo Angel
  • F- Luciano Emilio

I will get into more detail about why I made these picks in a later post.

This week's soccer on TV

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If it feels like it's been a few weeks since big European clubs squared off in league matches, it's because it has been a while. The wait is over this weekend as a pair of games on Sunday will give you a can't-miss doubleheader.

AC Milan faces Roma and Liverpool meets Arsenal in a pair of Sunday fixtures you will be able to catch on your favorite soccer channels.

Kaka admits to interesting in Real Madrid move

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Just when you thought Chelsea was going to break the bank to pry Kaka away from AC Milan, now comes word that Kaka would be open to a move to Real Madrid once his contract with Milan expires in 2011.

"I have a contract with Milan until 2011, I am not in a hurry to renew it and neither are Milan," Kaka said. "Florentino Perez must talk with Berlusconi.

EPL games on American soil? It could happen

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If you're an American soccer fan who loves the English Premier League, and have always dreamed of seeing an EPL game live, your dream may come true. No, you didn't win a contest for a trip to England. The EPL may come to you.

In the wake of the NFL's trip to London, with the New York Giants playing the Miami Dolphins, EPL owners have stated that playing EPL games in the United States could be a possibility.

Wynalda's California comment

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If you watched Thursday's night ESPN2 broadcast of Chicago vs. DC United there is a very good chance you heard ESPN color analyst Eric Wynalda deliver an unfortunate comment that had to leave some viewers stunned.

As ESPN2 cameras panned to the Chicago Fire supporter's group Section 8 with about 15 minutes left in the match, fans in the section set off flares that gave off a red, fire-like glare.

MLS PLAYOFFS: Fire downs DC in Game 1

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All eyes were on Cuauhtemoc Blanco but it was a more familiar face that gave Fire fans reason to celebrate on Thursday night.

Chris Rolfe's 14th-minute goal gave the Chicago Fire a 1-0 win over DC United in game one of their Eastern Conference playoff series. The series now shifts to DC, where United will play host to the Fire at RFK Stadium next Thursday.

Red Bulls practice Report

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Good afternoon folks. I'm back from Red Bulls practice and here are some of the things I can report on:

  • Claudio Reyna is healthy and should start on Saturday.
  • Dave Van Den Bergh and Francis Doe trained and will be available for selection.

I know, not much, but the Red Bulls being as healthy as they have been all year is a pretty positive sign.

UEFA CUP: Group Matchday One

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Good morning folks. The latest round of Champions League action is behind us but that doesn't mean there isn't good European soccer to be seen.

The UEFA Cup returns today with all 32 teams preparing for action in the first round of group stage games. There are some appealing matchups and some unique pairings in the mix. Fox Soccer Channel will be showing the Tottenham-Getafe tilt, otherwise known as the Martin Jol Death Watch, at 2:30 p.

What lineup should Bruce Arena use?

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Good morning folks. I'm about to head to Red Bulls practice so I can enjoy some of this great weather and I couldn't help but wonder what Red Bulls fans were thinking as far as a lineup they would like to see on Saturday against New England.

It's game one of the playoff series and a victory is a must. What starting XI would you want to see?

Your questions answered (The Lost Questions)

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Good morning folks. As you know, I try to make it a habit of answering all the questions submitted for the Q&As. Well, it didn't quite work out that way the last time. There were so many questions that I left off a good number of them. I didn't forget about them, I just needed some free time to get them done and I had to get them done so I could clear the way for the next session.

Champions League: Matchday Three

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Good afternoon folks. Today's Champions League action is about to get underway and there are a couple of matches on TV to tide you over.

Chelsea is facing Schalke 04 at 2:30pm on ESPN2, followed by Real Madrid playing Olympiakos on ESPN Classic at 5pm. Feel free to post your comments on these matches and any other matches you're watching today below in the comments section.

MLS PLAYOFFS: DC United vs. Chicago Fire (Who will win?)

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The MLS playoffs are set to begin tomorrow night and after doing my Eastern Conference preview for ESPN.com I found it very interesting how close the DC-Chicago series is. You would think DC is the easy choice based on records but this series really could go either way.

So here is my question for you SBI readers: Who will win this series and why?

Ian Joyce signs with Watford

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Seton Hall alum and Don Bosco Prep product Ian Joyce has signed a contract with English club Watford FC. Joyce will join fellow American Jay DeMerit on the team currently running away with first place in the English first division.

Joyce, who played for Seton Hall in 2006, spent time with English Conference squad Gray's Athletic before signing with Watford.

FIFA to name Brazil host of World Cup 2014

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In what can be best described as one of the worst kept secrets in soccer, FIFA will formally name Brazil as host of the 2014 World Cup. No formal announcement has been made yet but sources have told me FIFA has completed the formality of choosing Brazil, the only South American nation to bid for the tournament. FIFA will make the formal announcement on Tuesday in Zurich.

Now, about that list

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Good morning folks. I'm cranking out my Eastern Conference playoff preview for ESPN.com and the Herald News and will start with the steady posting shortly. The first thing I wanted to talk about was my list of Top 5 players in the world.

Yes, it took less than a day but I have changed my mind. This is my new list:

  • 1.

Americans in Europe: Weekend Rewind

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It wasn't a bad week for Freddy Adu, was it?

After impressing in a reserve role for the U.S. national team against Switzerland on Wednesday, Adu rejoined Benfica and played the role of super sub again, scoring a stoppage-time equalizer to help Benfica salvage a 1-1 tie Setubal in the fourth round of the Portuguese Cup.

Adu's goal is his second in a row in Cup play and could help lead to the youngster seeing more time for Benfica, which will take part in Champions League play this week.

Champions League (Your Running Commentary)

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Good afternoon all. Today's slate of Champions League matches is about to begin and I figured since many of you will be watching several of today's eight matches it would be a good time for a running commentary post.

I will be watching Rangers-Barcelona and doing a commentary off it. If you are watching another match, be it via satelitte TV or internet, feel free to chime in on what's happening in the match you are watching.

Who are your Top Five Players?

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Good morning folks. Apologies for the slow posting but I had some blog-related work to do.

I was reading some soccer mags recently and stumbled on the issue of 4-4-2 that included a valiant though flawed list of the top 100 players in the world. The magazine's criteria wasn't based purely on current form only so some selections were a bit puzzling.

Champions League is back

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The Champions League is back and what better way to welcome it back then with a juicy match-up between Barcelon and Rangers on ESPN2.

Today's match, set for 2:30pm, features Barca, fresh off a tough loss to Villarreal, and Rangers, which is fresh off a 3-0 rout against Celtic in their Old Firm clash. Winning at Ibrox won't be easy for Barcelona but neither will stopping the trio of Ronaldinho, Messi and Henry.

Ryan dumped as U.S. women's coach

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US Soccer president Sunil Gulati just announced that Greg Ryan will not be retained as U.S. women's national team coach. A search is under way for his replacement and the federation wants a replacement selected within the next 30 to 45 days. Mia Hamm will play a key role in helping find a replacement.

It isn't exactly a surprise but, now that this formality is out of the way, what do you think should happen next?

SBI European Club Top 10

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Good afternoon all. The SBI European Top 10 is back and we have a new No. 1 for the third week in a row.

Call it the SBI jinx as Barcelona suffered its first loss of the La Liga season to drop from the top spot.

Arsenal fans will be happy to see their team atop the list, though the Gunners could make it four weeks with new No.

Gulati to address Ryan's status today

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U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati will hold a conference call today at 4 p.m. to address the status of U.S. women's national team head coach Greg Ryan. It is unclear what Gulati has in store but if it is anything but announcement that Ryan will not be retained then Gulati will be in for more criticism than Ryan faced when he turned the Women's World Cup into his personal coaching bloopers reel.

Monday Morning Center Back: Philly expansion gaining momentum

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Good morning folks. It was a pretty good weekend of soccer action, both in Europe and here in the United States and lost in the drama of the final weekend of the MLS regular season was word out of the Philly area that Philadelphia is gaining serious momentum toward being the next MLS expansion franchise.

Delaware County officials have approved $30 million in funding toward a proposed $115 million stadium to be built in Chester, a Philly suburb.

Galaxy vs. Fire (Running Commentary)

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Good afternoon folks. I was planning on watching some NFL today but the drama surrounding the Galaxy-Fire match made it a great candidate for a running commentary.

You know what's on the line. The Fire can clinch a playoff spot with a win or tie while the Galaxy need a win to complete the most improbable run to the playoffs in recent memory.

Galaxy and Fire meet with playoffs on the line

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Good morning folks. Apologies for the absence of posts on Saturday (Attending a wedding has a way of taking up your whole day.)

As you may know by now, the Kansas City Wizards clinched one of the two remaining MLS playoff berths with a 2-0 win against FC Dallas on Saturday. The other playoff spot remained unclaimed as the Colorado Rapids blew their chance to clinch by dropping a 1-0 decision at home to arch-rival Real Salt Lake.

SBI MLS Awards: Rookie, Defender and Goalkeeper of the year

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Okay folks, I know some of you were wondering when I would post the rest of my picks for MLS awards. I figured I could just post the rest today, though they won't be having the in-depth analysis I provided for MVP and coach of the year awards.

Here are my picks for MLS Rookie, Defender, Newcomer and Goalkeeper of the Year:

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Dane Richards

DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: Michael Parkhurst

GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR: Brad Guzan

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Luciano Emilio

Wondering how I made these choices?

This weekend's soccer on TV

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Good afternoon folks. It is that time. Time for you to plan your weekends around your addiction to soccer.

There are no true CAN'T-MISS matches this weekend, but plenty of action worth watching and TIVOing. Now remember, if there are games that I haven't listed you can feel free to add them in the comments section. I try to focus on the main soccer stations but I know there are plenty more places showing games, I just don't have time to dig them all up.

Things that make you go hmmmm

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From the "It could be nothing or it could be SOMETHING." Department comes a little-known tidbit from last night's Red Bulls-Galaxy match. The match official last night was Kevin Stott, or some may say an evil twin who found his FIFA badge in a cereal box, but Stott wasn't the referee originally assigned to the match.

That distinction went to Brian Hall.

TGIF: What are your weekend soccer plans?

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Good morning folks. It is a dreary Friday here on the East Coast and even though the weather is a bit ugly I couldn't help but wonder what is on tap in the soccer world this weekend.

This is where I ask you, the SBI readers, what are your soccer plans for the weekend? Taking in a match in person? Hitting the pub in the AM to watch some European footie?

Red Bulls at LA Galaxy (Your running commentary)

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Good evening folks. We are about an hour from kickoff of the Red Bulls and Galaxy match and I'm afraid I won't be able to do a running commentary tonight but I figured I could put up a post to give you folks somewhere to discuss the match.

Here is the Red Bulls lineup for tonight's match:

RED BULLS LINEUP:

------------Angel--Wolyniec--------------

Altidore--------------------------Richards

---------------Vide-Stammler-------------

Van Den Bergh-----------------Freeman

------------Parke----Mendes------------

-----------------Conway------------------

Francis Doe and Claudio Reyna did not travel.

Waterreus to retire at season's end

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Ronald Waterreus' time in Major League Soccer will only last a year.

According to Red Bulls sources, Waterreus will retire from professional soccer at the end of the season, signaling the end to a 16-year professional career.

Waterreus started strongly for the Red Bulls before an ankle injury sidelined him and left him a shell of his former self upon his return.

MLS eyeing Portland

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MLS commissioner Garber was in Portland recently to gauge the interest in awarding an expansion team to the soccer-crazed northwestern city and things are looking good for the home of the Timbers. This article in the Oregonian paints a nice picture of the city's chances of landing one of the league's next expansion teams.

With Seattle set to join MLS in 2009, adding Portland would create an automatic rivalry that would be among the best, if not the best, in the league.

Guatemala upsets Mexico in ugly 'friendly'

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When I said the best thing you could root for is carnage when Guatemala played Mexico, I didn't expect the CONCACAF rivals to grant my wish.

Guatemala upset Mexico, 3-2, in an exhibition match marred by six red cards at the LA Coliseum on Wednesday night.

And guess who got one of these red cards? The saint himself, Carlos Ruiz, who was sent off for the sneaky and vicious studs up challenge you see above.

SBI MLS Awards: Coach of the Year

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Hello all. I know I was supposed to post my choice for coach of the year on Wednesday but things got a bit busy in SBI Land.

So what makes someone worthy of coach of the year? Is it taking a team without talent and helping it exceed expectations? Is it taking a talented team and helping it surpass lofty goals? Is it helping turn around a season that looked lost early on or at the midpoint?

Drogba: I want to leave Chelsea

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To the surprise of nobody, Didier Drogba is not happy at Chelsea. For the first time though, Drogba is set to state publicy that he wants to leave the English club. Friday's France Football magazine includes an interview with Drogba where the Ivory Coast striker states, "Something is broken with the club."

You know what this means.

U.S.-Switzerland (A second look)

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Good morning folks. It was a busy day on the international soccer scene yesterday, with Euro qualifiers, South American World Cup qualifiers and the U.S. national team's friendly in Switzerland.

I'll start today's proceedings with a look back at the U.S. team's 1-0 win against Switzerland.

The result was a good one but more important than the victory was the readiness some of the U.

U.S. vs. Switzerland (U.S. lineup)

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Good afternoon folks. I will be doing a running commentary on the match (hopefully, that's assuming my laptop doesn't die on me) but before we get to that here is the U.S. national team's starting lineup for today's friendly against Switzerland:

USA LINEUP:

------------------Dempsey-------------------

Beasley------------------------------Bradley

--------------Feilhaber---Edu----------------

Eddie Lewis-----------------------Cherundolo

---------Bocanegra-------Onyewu------------

----------------Hahnemann-----------------

This is the lineup I was just told.

Newcastle United eyeing Eddie Johnson

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The large crowd in attendance to watch the Red Bulls beat Kansas City on Saturday included one very interested spectator. Newcastle United's chief scout was in attendance and, while sources state he was there to gauge the quality of play in Major League Soccer, it appears he was there to scout a particular player.

No, it wasn't Jozy Altidore, at least that is what sources tell me.

Thierry Henry a future Red Bull?

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There aren't many more famous and more talented soccer players in the world than Thierry Henry, so when the French striker and Barcelona star says he loves America and New York is the best city in the world, you have to take notice.

In an interview with the New York Times, Henry spelled out his affection for the United States and stated that he would love to play here one day.

Messi magic lifts Argentina (and where to see today's CONMEBOL qualifiers)

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Lionel Messi worked his magic yet again, scoring in the 43rd minute to help Argentina down Venezuela, 2-0, in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying on Tuesday night.

Messi's Barcelona teammate, Gabriel Milito, opened the scoring in the 16th miunute with his first goal for Argentina, heading home a Juan Roman Riquelme free kick.

Messi made it 2-0 when he ran onto a Tevez pass and sliced up Venezuela's defense before blasting him the insurance goal.

Finding signs of MLS in everyday life

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This isn't a news post, just some observations from my Tuesday that might be of some interest.

Given the relatively small size of MLS it isn't easy to find signs of the league's existence in your every day life. At least nowhere near as many as you find of the NFL, MLB or NBA. With those leagues you see jerseys, bumper stickers, television commercials, etc.

Del Piero re-signs with Juve (So much for MLS in his future)

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Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero has signed a new deal with Juve through 2010, putting an end to speculation that he might wind up playing in Major League Soccer. Reports out of England linked Del Piero to a move to MLS, but I have a feeling some of those reports were pure fiction.

I stand by my belief that Del Piero would have been a great signing for some MLS team, but now, the chances of him coming have all but disappeared.

SBI MLS Awards: Most Valuable Player

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There is still a week left in the MLS regular season but with ballots for the MLS awards due this weekend I figured it was time to reveal my choices for the main awards.

Yes, I know, I wrote a column for ESPN two weeks ago stating my choices for the awards but some things have changed in those two weeks and I have changed at least two of my choices.

Should Sigi Schmid keep his job?

Soccer By Ives at related • 3 views

Good afternoon all. Apologies for the lack of posting this morning. I had a preschool field trip with SBI junior and haven't gotten the blog phone yet (that's coming though).

Now, onto a subject that Crew fans surely have an opinion about. Mr. Sigi Schmid. For those of you who didn't hear, Schmid told the Columbus Dispatch that his option was picked up by the Crew so he will be heading into his third season as Crew coach in 2008.

Who should Bob Bradley start vs. Switzerland

Soccer By Ives at related • 3 views

Good morning folks. We're a day away from the U.S. national team's upcoming friendly against Switzerland and it is time to start thinking about what sort of team Bradley will field against the Swiss.

Yes, the squad he brought in to camp is very young, with several players brought in with an eye toward the 2008 Olympic team, but that doesn't mean those fresh faces will be starting against a team like Switzerland on the road.

Is Denilson a bust already?

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When FC Dallas announced the signing of Denilson as its designated player, I voiced some very real concerns about whether the Brazilian was worth the money and hype surrounding his acquisition. Some six weeks into his time with Dallas, Denilson is looking like a bust.

Yes, he can still pull off a ball trick or two, but in terms of effective attacking soccer, Denilson has left quite a bit to be desired and doesn't look capable of being a real impact player when the playoffs start in two weeks.

Twellman added to U.S. roster for Switzerland friendly

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New England forward Taylor Twellman has been added to the U.S. national team's roster for its upcoming friendly against Switzerland on Wednesday.

Do I think he'll play? I can't imagine that Bob Bradley would call Twellman over just to have him around for training. I'm not sure if he starts (as I projected before the rosters were announced) but Twellman should get a good chance to show something against a strong Switzerland defense.

Milan calls Kaka to Chelsea rumors "a hoax"

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Chelsea fans, don't go ordering your Kaka jerseys just yet.

To the surprise of very few, AC Milan has denied any truth to stories linking Kaka to a $200 million move to Chelsea.

Yes, I know, teams deny moves they are about to make all the time but this Kaka story never made much sense. Yes, Roman Abramovich may be ready to break the bank for Kaka but Milan is fully aware that the Brazilian star is irreplaceable and Milan ownership isn't exactly lacking funds.

Argentina rolls, Brazil stumbles in World Cup qualifying

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Argentina's march to the 2010 World Cup started in impressive fashion as a pair of Juan Roman Riquelme free kicks gave Argentina a 2-0 victory against Chile.

South America's World Cup qualifying began this weekend and Uruguay joined Argentina as the strongest looking teams in the first round of qualifiers. Brazil? Not so much.

The star-studded lineup of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Robinho could not find the net on a sloppy and rainy night in Bogota as Colombia held the Copa America champions to a scoreless draw on Sunday.

Monday Morning Center Back: The MLS MVP Vote

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Good morning folks. The topic for this week's MMCB is the MLS MVP vote. As some of you know, I picked my winners for MLS awards two weeks ago on ESPN.com. After already changing my mind on Coach of the Year (Tom Soehn edging out Preki), another of the awards has a new winner in my mind.

Juan Pablo Angel is the MLS MVP. Yes, I know, there's a game left in the season, but since that last game means nothing to either the Red Bulls or DC United, which features MVP candidate Luciano Emilio, I now see Angel as being the clear-cut choice for the league's top honor.

MLS playoff picture takes focus

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The Galaxy keeps on winning, the Red Bulls finally won and Columbus is looking to next year yet again.

Those were just some of the storylines as the MLS playoff picture moved into focus on Saturday.

The Galaxy won its fifth straight game, beating Toronto 2-1 to keep its playoff hopes strong. The Kansas City Wizards had a chance to clinch a post-season berth but instead, they kept yet another late-season slide going by falling to the Red Bulls.

Red Bulls vs. Kansas City (Lineups)

Soccer By Ives at related • 2 views

Hello folks. Welcome to the running commentary for tonight's Red Bulls match against Kansas City.

When Bruce Arena hinted that some changes were coming, he wasn't kidding.

Arena has benched goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus and will start Jon Conway tonight. It is a move that needed to be made. Arena also made the defensive changes I predicted he would make, with Carlos Mendes in the middle and Hunter Freeman replacing Chris Leitch at right back.

Red Bulls Matchday

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Good afternoon folks. Tonight is the final regular season home game for the Red Bulls and the match should have its share of drama.

Yes, the Red Bulls already qualified for the playoffs, but they still have enough issues to make things interesting. Bruce Arena is very likely to make changes to the Red Bulls shaky defense and we will get to see if the misfiring attack can start finishing the chances it has wasted in recent weeks.

Judgment Saturday in MLS

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Good morning all, it is Saturday and the playoff lives of the five teams fighting for the final two playoff spots will be on the line as today's MLS matches will help clear up the post-season picture.

Here are the match-ups and what is on the line in today's MLS action:

Chicago Fire at DC United- The Fire cannot clinch a playoff berth with a victory but a win would make things a little easier in its season final against the Galaxy.

The five worst trades of the MLS season

Soccer By Ives at related • 5 views

Good evening folks. For those of you who haven't skipped out for your Friday night festivities, here is some light reading for you. My column on the five worst MLS trades of the 2007 season is now up.

I'll be the first to admit that my five may not be the best five (or I guess worst five) but all are definitely in contention.

If I had it to do over again I probably would have found a way to include Real Salt Lake dealing a partial allocation to Toronto for Jason Kreis, who played just four games before retiring to become head coach.

Red Bulls home playoff game set for Oct. 20th

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The Red Bulls playoff game in the first round will be played on Saturday night, Oct. 20th. There was a chance the match would be picked up as the Thursday night playoff match but it was not so you can start making your plans for a week from Saturday.

Spotlight: St. John's midfielder Nelson Becerra

Soccer By Ives at related • 8 views

Hello all. For those of you who didn't see it, I wrote a profile on St. John's midfielder Nelson Becerra for the Herald News. It's a pretty interesting story on a kid who could eventually emerge as the next top midfielder to come from North Jersey.

Enjoy and share any feedback you'd like.

TGIF: On MLS Trades

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Good morning all, it's a busy day for yours truly. I'm wrapping up my ESPN column and heading to my alma mater, Ramapo College, to speak to a class.

I wasn't going to forget TGIF though, and here it is. The topic is MLS trades. My ESPN column, which should be up later today, focused on the five most lopsided trades of the 2007 MLS season.

Jack Stewart: Cosmo model, unemployed soccer player)

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If you've checked out MLSNET.com today there is a good chance you've seen the story about Real Salt Lake defender Jack Stewart being named one of Cosmopolitan Magazine's 50 hottest bachelors. While that may be good news for Stewart and the ladies of Utah, there is one slight problem. Stewart no longer has a job.

According to sources within MLS, Stewart has been sent packing by RSL, which bid farewell to Stewart almost two weeks ago.

Defensive changes in store for the Red Bulls

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Bruce Arena knows something is wrong, and he sounds ready to do something about it.

The it in this case is a Red Bulls defense that has allowed at least two goals in eight of the past nine matches. Arena was frank in stating that changes to the defense are very likely.

"I don't think the continuity we've established is such that we want to continue it anyway," Arena said.

Dida gets two-match ban

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AC Milan goalkeeper Dida learned the hard way that the days of flopping and getting away with it are over (at least in Europe).

The Brazilian goalkeeper was issued a two-match suspension for his terrible acting job after a Celtic fan ran onto the field and tapped him on the shoulder after Celtic's game-winning goal in Champions League action last week.

Off to Red Bulls practice

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Good morning folks. I will be leaving the SBI compound for a while to go attend Red Bulls practice. I'll check back in this afternoon.

If there are any soccer news items that emerge while I'm gone feel free to post them below. I'll be checking in from practice.

Fantasy soccer, Chelsea style

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You had to know Jose Mourinho's departure would lead to some top players leaving, didn't you?

Stories have emerged out of England and Spain today stating that Chelsea stars Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba are on the way out in the wake of Mourinho's departure.

If that weren't enough, new Chelsea manager Avram Grant has targeted none other than Kaka, arguably the best player in the world right now, to be the face of Chelsea's reconstruction project.

Guess who's back?

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Well, that didn't last long.

U.S. Women's national team goalkeeper Hope Solo has seen her banishment from the team cut short. She has been named to the U.S. women's team roster for its upcoming series of friendlies against Mexico.

So what gives? Did all the wounds really heal that quickly? Did her teammates really decide to take her back after spending the past two weeks bashing her?

You Write the Caption

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Good afternoon folks. It looks like the second half of the Q&A will run tomorrow so here's something to tide you over in the mean time.

This You Write the Caption photo isn't overly funny but it does provide material for some potentially funny captions. Here goes:

Ronaldinho slaloms past the Real Salt Lake defense in a recent friendly.

Mexico facing Guatemala in friendly at LA Coliseum on Oct. 17th

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The Mexican national team will face Guatemala in a friendly at the Los Angeles Coliseum on October 17th. The match was announced today (hey, who needs more than a week's notice for an international soccer match anyway?).

The match will be Hugo Sanchez's first appearance in LA as Mexico's coach and it will also be a chance for Carlos Ruiz to break the Guatemalan national team record for goals.

So who are Tally Hall and Steve Purdy?

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Those two names left more than a couple of U.S. Soccer fans scratching their heads as they read the roster for the U.S. national team's upcoming friendly against Switzerland.

In this world of easy internet access and steady info on American soccer players, it is rare when two players can fly under the radar like Hall and Purdy did. Well, those days are over.

Your Questions Answered (Half of them for now)

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Good morning folks. It's a rainy and ugly Wednesday morning in Jersey and I'm about to get started on another busy day of blogging and reporting. I know it's been almost two weeks since questions were submitted for a Q&A session and I have finally found the time to answer them.

More than 70 questions were submitted so it took a while and I will only post half of my responses now.

U.S. Team announced 21-man roster for Switzerland friendly

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U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley named the 21-man squad for the team's upcoming friendly against Switzerland on Oct. 14th.

Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra lead a roster that is filled with young players, a roster built with an eye toward the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. U.S. Under-20 stars Freddy Adu, Danny Szetela, Chris Seitz and Sal Zizzo join Michael Bradley on the roster.

Random Soccer Thoughts

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Hello folks. It is almost noon on the East Coast and I'm just waiting for U.S. Soccer to release the roster for the upcoming training camp leading to the Switzerland friendly. As most of you saw, I released some names last night of players who have been called in. I'm really curious to see whether the likes of Johann Smith and Kamani Hill will join the other young players already slated to attend the camp.

The deal with Giuseppe Rossi

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Will he or won't he? That seems to be the hot question surrounding whether Giuseppe Rossi will actually consider playing for the U.S. national team and change his mind about playing for Italy.

Why the sudden spark in interest? It comes on the heels of Bob Bradley admitting that Rossi has been contacted about the possibility of playing for the United States.

SBI European Club Top 10

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There is a change at the top but not the change you're probably thinking.

Real Madrid lost its grip on the No. 1 spot in the SBI European Top 10, but unbeaten Arsenal is NOT the new No. 1. That distinctions goes to Barcelona, which is playing impeccable soccer these days. Led by Lionel Messi, Barca destroyed an Atletico Madrid team that had been playing great soccer before its trip to the Nou Camp.

UEFA Cup Draw set

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The draw for the group stages of the UEFA Cup was made this morning and, as you might expect, there are some intriguing match-ups.

Unbeaten Bayern Munich will meet Bolton while Villarreal and Fiorentina have been paired in the best match-up of the group stage.

Here are the groups.

If you're wondering about where the Americans have been placed, here are some: Tim Howard's Everton will face AZ Alkmaar and Zenit St.

Adu, Szetela called in to camp for USA vs. Switzerland

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The U.S. national team could have a distinctively young feel to it when it faces Switzerland in a friendly in Basel on Oct. 17th. U.S. Under-20 national team stars Freddy Adu, Danny Szetela, Sal Zizzo and Chris Seitz have all been called in for the training camp ahead of the senior national team's friendly against the Swiss.

The U.

Hristo Stoitchkov is looking for work

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Bulgarian legend and former Chicago Fire striker Hristo Stoitchkov is looking for a new job after being fired as Celta Vigo manager on Monday.

The former Bulgarian national team coach and 1994 World Cup star isn't likely to stay out of work long, not with European soccer's love of star players turned coaches.

Could Stoitchkov ever come back to MLS as a coach?

Chelsea closing in on new coach

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Chelsea is close to signing up some quality help for current manager Avram Grant. Current Ajax manager Henk ten Cate is Chelsea's target to join Grant's coaching staff and the London club has reached an agreement with Ajax for the coach's services. All that is left is for Chelsea to reach a contract agreement with Ten Cate, which should come this week.

UEFA to charge Dida

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AC Milan goalkeeper Dida is about to learn the harsh lesson that it doesn't pay to act on the soccer field.

UEFA is set to charge Dida with improper conduct for his poor acting attempt after being approached by a Celtic fan during AC Milan's Champions League loss at Celtic Park last week.

Here is the video clip for those of you who missed it.

Americans in Europe: Weekend rewind

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Marcus Hahnemann rebounded from last week's seven-goal horror show to post a shutout in Reading's 1-0 win against Derby.

Hahnemann's shutout capped a busy weekend for Americans in Europe. You had Giuseppe Rossi scoring again, though in a Villarreal loss this time, and Michael Bradley started for Heerenveen in a 9-0 thrashing of Heracles.

You Write the Caption (Last week's best)

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Good afternoon folks. I know many of you having been waiting for this one, the best captions submitted for the photo of CJ Brown kicking Carlos Ruiz in the Pescaditos.

There were plenty of good ones but I could only pick ten. Here they are, the Top 10 Best Captions for this photo:

10. "What the hell are my spikes caught in?

Monday Morning Center Back: Who wants an MLS playoff berth?

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Good morning folks. It should be a busy Monday on SBI. Be on the look out for the Americans in Europe recap, which will post before noon today, as well as the winners from last week's You Write the Caption contest.

This morning's topic is the MLS playoff race. Los Angeles, the team so many (including me) left for dead last summer, is officially back in the race.

Chicago Fire beats New England, edges closer to playoffs

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After rattling off four ties in a row, the Chicago Fire found a way to record a sorely-needed victory that has Chicago on the verge of clinching an MLS playoff spot.

Chad Barrett's game-winning goal helped the Fire complete the comeback from 1-0 down in the first half and post a 2-1 victory against New England on Saturday night.

Arsenal downs fiesty Sunderland to regain top spot in EPL

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A Robin Van Persie brace, including a game-winner in the 80th minute, gave Arsenal a 3-2 victory against a game Sunderland team. The move pushed Arsenal back ahead of Manchester United into first place in the English Premier League.

Sunderland came back from 2-0 to tie the match in the second half but Van Persie netted the winner with just 10 minutes left to put the Gunners back in first place.

Manchester United climbs to top of EPL (for now)

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So much for the 1-0 results.

Manchester United finally found a way to net more than one goal in a game, scoring four to thrash Wigan, 4-0, and move into first place in the English Premier League.

The hold on first place may not last long, not with Arsenal holding two games in hand with a trip to Sunderland scheduled for Sunday.

Carlos Tevez looked as dangerous as ever, with his partnership alongside Wayne Rooney beginning to flourish.

LA Galaxy still alive in MLS playoff race

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Yes, the Los Angeles Galaxy, the team most of us left for dead in August, is back.

After going winless for two months and losing David Beckham to a serious knee injury, the Galaxy looked ready to start planning for 2008 back in August. Coach Frank Yallop looked like a goner and Beckham looked like he regretted ever signing his massive contract.

This weekend's soccer on TV

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Another week, another slate of tantalizing match-ups.

Barcelona-Atletico Madrid, Juventus-FIorentina and Boca Juniors-River Plate highlight this weekend's schedule of games on TV.

Saturday morning won't be offering the usual slate of games, with no English games available on Fox Soccer Channel. That should give you a chance to sleep in and rest up for a jam-packed Sunday.

Americans in Europe: UEFA Cup rewind

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Thursday offered up a mixed bag of results for Americans playing in the UEFA Cup. Some survived the day while two U.S. national team standouts saw their UEFA Cup runs end.

Michael Bradley's Heerenveen dropped a 5-1 decision in the second leg of their series with Helsingborg, giving the Swedish club an 8-6 aggregate victory. Bradley came off in the 58th minute as Heerenveen added a forward in an attempt to close a 4-0 gap.

TGIF: The Clark suspension

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Ricardo Clark's nine-game suspension has been handed down and while we're left to wonder the logic behind the length of suspension, one thing seems clear. MLS commish Don Garber is reading from the playbook of NFL commish Roger Goodell, issuing harsh suspensions and threatening to deliver harsher ones in the future.

What remains to be seen is whether Carlos Ruiz, the player on the other end of Clark's vicious kick, is going to face any of that tough MLS justice.

New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC (Running Commentary)

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Hello all. We're less than an hour from kickoff of the Red Bulls-Toronto FC game and I will be doing the customary running commentary on the match.

Follow the match here and feel free to share your comments on the match below. Let's start out with the Red Bulls' starting lineup for tonight's match:

POST-GAME- Thanks for following along on the running commentary and for continuing to support the blog.

MLS suspends Ricardo Clark NINE games

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Major League Soccer has suspended Ricard Clark for nine games and fined him $10,000 for his kick of Carlos Ruiz during Houston's 3-0 win against FC Dallas last weekend. The suspension will run through the playoffs and the 2008 season.

The league made no announcement regarding Carlos Ruiz and whether he would face additional suspension time for his role in the incident.

Your new Columbus Crew jerseys

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Well, it's official. Glidden is the Columbus Crew's new jersey sponsor and here is the new jersey:

And what's a new jersey without a new slogan?

Glidden and the Columbus Crew: Who knows rebuilding better than we do?

All kidding aside, the four-year deal is a significant one for Major League Soccer with Glidden being the first nationally recognizable jersey sponsor the league has attracted.

Dida's Academy Award Performance

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Soccer players pretending to have been hit is not a new thing. We just saw Carlos Ruiz pretend to get kicked in the face when we clearly saw that he was kicked in the arm. So what make's Dida's recent performance in AC Milan's Champions League match against Celtic different? He pretended to have been hit by a fan AND did so AFTER already beginning to chase after the fan.

Reyna doesn't travel (Red Bulls preview)

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Red Bulls captain Claudio Reyna did not make the trip to Toronto for tonight's match against Toronto FC (7pm, ESPN2). He is still recovering from turf toe that caused him to leave last weekend's 2-2 tie with Real Salt Lake.

Here is my advance on tonight's match in today's Herald News. I talk about the right back position and whether Bruce Arena is ready to make a change (not likely).

Voting for MLS Awards now open

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It is that time of year again. Time to vote for Major League Soccer's awards. Balloting for the awards opens today and you will be able to provide your input into who you think deserves MVP, rookie of the year and coach of the year honors, among others.

For those of you who missed it, I wrote a piece for ESPN.com earlier this week giving my picks for the awards.

Glidden to be named Columbus Crew jersey sponsor

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The Columbus Crew will initroduce paint company Glidden as its new jersey sponsor at a press conference today at 2pm in Columbus.

Glidden joins Herbalife (LA Galaxy), Xango (Real Salt Lake), BMO (Toronto FC) and Comex (Chivas USA) as MLS jersey sponsors.

New England wins U.S. Open Cup

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The New England Revolution will have to get started on building a trophy case.

The Revs won their first major title on Wednesday night, defeating FC Dallas, 3-2, in the U.S. Open Cup final in Frisco on Wednesday night. Pat Noonan recorded a goal and two assists for the Revs, who won their first trophy after losing in four different cup finals.

UEFA Champions League (Your running commentary)

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Good afternoon all. Today's Champions League action is less than an hour from kicking off and I know many of you will be following along via TV or internet. I won't be doing a running commentary on any of today's matches but I figured I could provide a place where you can post comments on the matches you are watching.

ESPN2 will be airing Liverpool vs.

DC United falls in Copa Sudamericana

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DC United's quest for another international trophy came to an end on Tuesday night as Chivas de Guadalajara posted a 1-0 victory in their Copa Sudamericana match, giving Chivas a home-and-home series victory on away goals. Mexican national team midfielder Ramon Morales (above) scored the game-winner.

The loss marks the second time this year that DC fell to Chivas in an international competition.

You Write the Caption (10/3)

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Good afternoon folks. I know the hot topic in Major League Soccer right now is Ricardo Clark's kick of Carlos Ruiz. The incident has folks debating how Clark should be punished and how Ruiz should be punished.

One thing is clear from this incident. A lot of people really don't like Carlos Ruiz. It could be his flopping. It could be his dirty play.

Decision on Ricardo Clark's kick looming

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Major League Soccer's punishment for Ricardo Clark's kick attack on Carlos Ruiz could come as early as today. MLS officials interviewed Clark and Ruiz on Tuesday and suspensions and fines should follow.

For those of you who missed it, Clark kicked Ruiz in the shoulder as Ruiz lay on the ground following a FC Dallas free kick. A closer look at the video reveals that Ruiz wasn't exactly blameless in the incident.

Champions League Rewind

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Tuesday was a good day for British teams in the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Rangers all won their matches via shutout in an exciting day of Champions League action.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoyed the best performance of the day. The Inter Milan striker and recently-named SBI European Best XI player netted two goals to help Inter defeat PSV Eindhoven, 2-0.

Manchester United-AS Roma (Running commentary)

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Good afternoon folks. I am about to watch the Champions League match between Manchester United and Roma and figured it would be a good time to do a running commentary for those of you who can't watch the match and for those of you who want to exchange opinions and views on the match.

Let's get started:

---------------------------

HALFTIME- DaMarcus Beasley with an assist as his corner kick sets up Rangers lone goal to lead Lyon 1-0.

UEFA Champions League: Manchester United vs. Roma on ESPN2 at 2:30pm

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Good afternoon folks. For those of you who weren't aware, Manchester United and Roma will meet in Champions League action at 2:30pm on ESPN2. Barcelona/Stuttgart is on ESPN Deportes at 2:30pm for those of you lucky enough to get it. If you don't mind watching via tape delay you can see Barcelona/Stuttgart on ESPN Classic at 5pm.

Enjoy the action.

Del Piero's Juve days numbered?

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Alessandro Del Piero has become synonymous with Juventus but the Italian striker's days with the Turin club may be coming to an end, and you have to wonder if a trip to the United States is in his future.

Contract talks between Del Piero and Juventus have stalled, meaning Del Piero could see the exit door next summer, if not sooner.

SBI European Best XI (September)

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September was a month to remember in European soccer. From Lionel Messi's heroics to Cesc Fabregas sudden goal-scoring prowess, there were plenty of players who stepped their game up and made the game a joy to watch.

How do you pick the very best players for the month of September? The first thing you do is accept the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect selection for a Best XI.

What will happen to Ricardo Clark?

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Ricardo Clark just snapped.

The Houston Dynamo midfielder pulled his right leg back and kicked FC Dallas forward Carlos Ruiz in the shoulder as Ruiz lay on the ground following a sequence late in Houston's 3-0 win against FC Dallas. The kick left fans and players in a bit of shock at seeing the normally mild-mannered player react in such a way.

SBI European Club Top 10 (10/1)

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What a week of upsets. AC Milan ties Catania, Roma loses two in a week, PSV ties NAC Breda and Chelsea's freefall continued with a tie against Fulham.

As you can expect, the SBI European Top 10 had a thorough shakeup because of all of these results. The top two spots remain unchanged, with Real Madrid holding on to the top spot (courtesy of Sergio Ramos' game-winner against Getafe) with Arsenal right behind them.

Americans in Europe: Keller, Bocanegra shut out Chelsea

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Kasey Keller didn't waste any time rewarding Fulham coach Lawrie Sanchez for making him the Cottagers' No. 1 goalkeeper. Keller made four saves in shutting out Chelsea on Saturday, along with the help of Carlos Bocanegra, who played a strong match. Clint Dempsey played his part. No, he didn't score, but Dempsey did collide with Chelsea captain John Terry, leaving him with a fractured cheek bone.

Monday Morning Center Back (The worst coach you never heard of)

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Admit it. Before last week you had never heard of Greg Ryan. Only die-hard followers of the U.S. women's national soccer team had heard of the anonymous coach before his fateful decision to start Briana Scurry against Brazil in the World Cup semifinals last week. Now Ryan has quickly become as well-known an American soccer coach as you'll find, be it in men's soccer or women's soccer.